Illustration • Free Resources 12 Free Color-Blending Photoshop Brushes

Jessica Johnson of Creators Couture shares Impressionism-inspired and pastel brushes, as well as some painting techniques. 

In addition to working with Adobe Create to give away this set of Impressionist and pastel color-blending Photoshop brushes, I want to share two brush techniques that have completely changed the way I paint in Photoshop. Whether you’re a designer, an illustrator, or a hobbyist, you can do more than you realize with the power of Photoshop brushes, and the best part is that these features are already in Photoshop…you just might not be using them yet!  

Photoshop Technique Number One: Color-Blending Impressionist Brush Strokes via the Pattern Stamp Tool

This tool really doesn’t get the credit it deserves, and if you aren’t using the Pattern Stamp tool to create color-blending brush strokes, you’re missing out on a very interesting Photoshop feature! With the Pattern Stamp tool selected, and the Impressionist option selected in the top bar, select a brush and paint a stroke. Whatever colors are in your currently loaded pattern will come out as you paint. If you use one of the default Photoshop brushes, you will likely see unappealing color banding. But if you experiment with and adjust the various brush settings—especially the Spacing, Scatter, Texture, and Dual Brush settings—you can achieve amazing color-blending brushstroke effects. Follow along with my tutorial to start painting in amazing color-blending brushstrokes right away!  

Step 1: Install the Brushes

The first download includes brushes, patterns, and two images with palettes you can sample from. Double-click on the .abr file you downloaded to install the brushes (first make sure Photoshop is open). Alternatively, you can open the Brushes window (Windows > Brushes), click on the menu in the top right corner, and select Import Brushes. 

Watch the full video tutorial to see the Impressionist brushes in action. 

Step 2: Load the Pattern File

Once the brushes are installed, load the pattern (.pat) file, which contains pre-blended color palettes sampled from paintings by Impressionist masters. Double-click the .pat file while Photoshop is open. Alternatively, you can open the Patterns window, click on the menu in the top right corner, and select Import Patterns. 

Step 3: Pattern Stamp Tool Magic

From the left toolbar, select the Pattern Stamp tool. If you don’t see it, right click on the Clone Stamp tool to bring out the fly-out options, which include the Pattern Stamp tool. With the Pattern Stamp tool selected, select one of the six specially designed Impressionist brushes. 

Photoshop Technique Number Two: Loading Multiple Colors into the Mixer Brush to Create Dimensional Brush Strokes

You can create more natural, textural, and dimensional brushstrokes simply by loading multiple colors into the Photoshop Mixer brush. The second set of color-blending brushes that we’re giving away includes six brushes from my upcoming Pastel-ish collection, inspired by wet and dry pastels. They provide lots of great texture and natural color-blending effects. Watch the tutorial video (below) to see how to load and use the brushes, and also learn how you can sample directly from images to create the illusion of depth and dimension in your brush strokes (steps are written out below). 

Step 1: Install the Brushes

Double-click on the .abr file you downloaded to install the brushes (first make sure Photoshop is open). Alternatively, you can open the Brushes window (Windows > Brushes), click on the menu in the top right corner, and select Import Brushes. If you are using an older version of Photoshop, load the .tpl file via the tool presets window.

Watch the full video tutorial to see the Pastel-ish brushes in action. 

Step 2: Prepare your Palettes

Once the brushes are installed, you can open up the Wet-Brush-Palettes Photoshop file that you downloaded, or you can open any image you want to sample colors from. The Wet-Brush-Palettes file is a carefully curated color palette collection that you can play with when you are starting off with the Pastel-ish brushes; the colors are sampled from the works of Impresssionst and Post-Impressionist masters! To load colors onto your brush from either this file or your own image, alt-click (Windows) or option-click (Mac OS) the canvas, and whatever colors are on that layer underneath your brush will get loaded up into your brush. 

Loading up multiple colors will make your brush strokes more natural and give the illusion of depth. Be sure that the Load Solid Colors Only option isn’t selected in the dropdown menu next to the pickup well preview. If you want to zoom in on a specific color region in your image, lower your brush size when you are loading your paint onto your brush until it is just the size of the area you want to sample colors from. Alt- or option-click to load the colors; then you can resize your brush back to the size you want after you have loaded those colors.

Step 3: Paint Pastels That Pop

Now it’s time to start painting! Have fun experimenting with blending the various pastel inspired brushes and creating dimensional and textural brush strokes using this method. If you want a particular brush stroke to stand out when you paint on top of your image, just click the Dry, Heavy Load option in the top menu to keep that stroke from blending in with the other colors on that layer! (Here is a bonus download: a pattern file that contains a canvas texture.) You can apply this texture over your background layer with the Blend mode set to Overlay, Multiply, or Linear Burn on a low opacity to give your design or illustration an extra-realistic look, as it is the same texture within the brushes! 

Check out more tools and resources for digital artists, by Creators Couture

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